Catherine Marion of Folklore & Flora is a Canadian artist and designer, now living in the beautiful Taranaki. Trained as a graphic designer, Catherine has followed her heart and her own creative journey to become an independent artist. She loves to create art more than anything else and enjoys producing pieces that connect with people and remind them of the rich diversity of nature surrounding them. Catherine’s beautiful kererū also graces the cover of this year’s Felt Christmas Catalogue – we’re in love with it!
How did you get into your craft?
I always have been into art and design, but started creating art with the intention to share my work about a year ago now. I am a graphic designer and a bit of a geek so it came natural to me to start creating digital art and prints.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I studied fine art in Montreal, Canada for two years and followed this training with three years study in graphic design at the University Laval in Quebec city. I also studied design for 6 months in the south of France and worked as a graphic designer for two years in Scotland. I love learning and traveling!
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I enjoy drawing and painting but these days most of my work is done on the computer. I use a high quality texture art paper to make my prints which looks simply stunning. I always knew that the choice of the paper would be the key to create stunning prints so I found this beautiful textured matte paper which is 275gsm weight as well as acid and lignin free.
Describe your creative process:
I start with a hand drawing of my composition. Then I will take a picture of my sketch and import it into Illustrator where I will redraw the whole artwork in vectors (digital lines). After this, I need to choose what colour each element in the artwork will be. This is always a tricky part, it never ends up the way I first imagined it, but that’s part of the process! The final stage before printing will be to add texture and gradients using Photoshop. This last part is crucial as it transforms the artwork and make it look more organic and warm – closer to what a painting would feel like.
What inspires you?
I take my inspiration in nature. I will study the plants in my garden, at the beach, next to the road, etc. and draw a quick sketch of the flowers and leaves in my sketchbook. This first series of artwork I am offering on Felt is focused on birds from New Zealand and around the world. I aim to present each bird surrounded by the flora of its native region.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
What I enjoy with my process is that people will recognise the flowers and plants depending on where they are from or have travelled to in the world. At present, I have created artworks inspired by the flora and fauna of New Zealand (Tui, Kereru, Fantails), Canada (Blue Jays), Scotland (Puffins), as well as Japan (Japanese
Cranes), which are all countries I have had the chance to live in or travel to. Through this process, I wish to create pieces of art that connect with people and remind them of the rich diversity of nature surrounding us wherever we are.
Five words that describe your mind:
Curious, adventurous, abstract, loving, free.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Some of the best feedback I’ve had came from overseas clients that have visited New Zealand or have family members from here. One of my best customers is from Japan and she left me beautiful feedback saying that she loved the prints so much because they reminded her of the time she spent in New Zealand. She was really happy to find her prints arrived at her home in Japan in perfect condition as she had been worried at first about the transportation.
Describe your workspace:
Since most of my work is done on computer, I have the opportunity to work anywhere I want. Most of the time I will work at the dining table in our house in Taranaki, but occasionally on a cold winter day I will stay in bed all day and work while keeping warm under the covers with my dog! I work part time as a graphic designer for a company in town with amazing people who let me use their workshop and large format printer. I spend quite a bit of time printing and packaging my orders there as well.
What are you currently listening to?
I do not listen to music… I know this probably sounds strange! When I work I normally listen to informative podcasts or audiobooks, I just love to learn about new subjects all the time.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
You probably won’t know this one as it is from a French author (yes, my first language is French!), it is called “La nuit des temps” by René Barjavel. It starts with an expedition to the north pole where the ruins of a 900,000 year old civilisation is discovered. I read this book as an teenager, but it remains to this day my favourite book. I love this story because it is an incredible adventure through time combined with mystery and an ending that blows your mind. I believe you can find an English translation called “The Ice People”.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading the short story “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy.
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I admire people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs for their creativity and their ability to make their ideas push through. These people are fascinating to me because they seem to be able to make reality malleable and create what others would consider impossible.
A favourite quote:
“Form follows function” by Louis Sullivan.
Tell us about your pets:
I have a dalmatian dog that has followed be around the world. I got her as a pup when I was living in Canada, then she travelled with me to Scotland where we lived for a few years and now she is enjoying the farm life with us in New Zealand. We also have three hens: Jenny, Babs and Myrtle, and a cat we recently adopted called Tom.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Just do it – there is always a million reasons not to start your own crafty business but I did it! To be honest it took me years to finally decide to go ahead with it but in the end this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am really happy I started this journey. I think everybody is creative in one way or another and it is so rewarding to create something that didn’t exist before.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
I think crafty products are really personal because they tell a story. I have quite a few craft objects that we have carried with us to New Zealand because they remind us of a place or a story. These types of objects can give life to a house.
What was the last craft item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last craft item that was added to our collection is a little mackerel sculpture which was given to us by my boyfriend’s Aunty. It reminds us of Scotland where his family is from and more particularly of his Dad’s 69th birthday when we went out on a fishing boat and caught 28 mackerel!
What’s in store for the rest of 2018, and next year?
I am always working on new designs – you can see the creative process on Instagram @folkloreandflora or on my Facebook page – Folklore & Flora. I will also have prints appearing in an art gallery that has recently opened in Wellington and I will be taking part in the “Art in the Park” art and craft market, which will be taking place at King Edward Park in Hawera, South Taranaki on Saturday, December 1st. Then I will hit the beach for Christmas!
Catherine has very kindly offered a wonderful prize of an A3 Scarlet Tui print from her stunning collection, for one lucky Felt reader (see above)! If you would like a chance to win this lovely Folklore & Flora prize, just leave a comment on the blog telling us what you like about Catherine’s story and her artworks. The draw closes at 5pm on Monday 26 November and is open to New Zealand residents only.